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The work of FAO

Staff changes
Latin-American forestry commission
Near east forestry commission
Technical meetings
Timber committee of ECE

Staff changes

Egon Glesinger, who needs no introduction to readers of Unasylva, has been appointed to succeed Marcel Leloup as Director of FAO's Forestry and Forest Product Division. For the past 10 years Dr. Glesinger has been Deputy Director of the Division. He joined FAO in 1946 as Chief of the Forest Products Branch, having previously in 1944 served on the United Nations Interim Commission on Food and Agriculture which defined how forestry and forest products should be included within the scope of FAO as provided for in the original Constitution of the Organization.

André Métro, formerly Conservateur des eaux et forêts at the Ecole nationale des eaux et forêts at Nancy, France, has been appointed to succeed Irvine Haig as Chief, Forest Technology Branch. Dr. Haig, who joined the Organization in 1951, has rejoined the United States Forest Service, where his duties will require his continued contact with FAO's forestry activities. In particular, he will serve as executive secretary to the Organizing Committee of the Fifth World Forestry Congress to be held in the United States in 1960.

Karl Oedekoven has succeeded Graf S. von der Recke, retired, as Regional Forestry Officer for the Near East. Graf von der Recke served with FAO for five years, most of that time having been spent as Regional Forestry Officer for Latin America. He is now with the Bundesministerium für Ernährung, Landwirtschaft und Forsten, Western Germany.

Chandra S. Purkayastha has retired from his post as Regional Forestry Officer for the Asia and Pacific region. In the course of eight years spent at the Regional FAO Office in Bangkok, Mr. Purkayastha developed FAO's forestry program for this wide region. He is succeeded by U Aung Din, who joined FAO from the Burma Forest Service in 1956.

Latin-American forestry commission

Ricardo Lavagnino Girón of Guatemala was elected Chairman of the Sixth Session of FAO's Latin-American Forestry Commission which was held at Antigua, Guatemala, from 4 to 15 November 1958. José Paulo Silvairo-Cabral (Brazil) and Gilberto Leon (Cuba) were elected as Vice-Chairmen and Rafael Viloria Díaz (Venezuela) as Rapporteur.

Formally opened by the President of the Republic of Guatemala, the session was attended by delegates from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, France, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua, the Netherlands, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Venezuela. Observers represented Spain, the Holy See, Unesco, the United Nations' Economic Commission for Latin America, the Organization of American States, and the U.S.A. International Co-operation Administration. Egon Glesinger, then Deputy Director of the Forestry Division, represented FAO and FAO's Regional Forestry Officer, Jean Moser, acted as Secretary to the Commission.

The main feature of the session was the detailed discussion of progress in forestry development in countries of the region, based on the reports submitted by members. It became clear from these discussions that FAO's policy for the future must be increasingly orientated towards collaboration with associations of forest owners, industry and trade, and professional bodies. Throughout Latin America these associations are influential and effective in furthering forestry. The strengthening of state forest services must remain the long-term aim, and in this connection considerable attention was given to the means for developing professional and technical forestry education at all levels to meet the growing needs of public administrations and private enterprise. But remuneration for trained staff must be made attractive, and there must be prospects of continuity of employment.

It is now admitted that the only way to develop still virgin or little exploited natural forests is by settling people in the areas where these are located. Wherever land settlement plans are concerned, forestry authorities must participate very fully in their framing, just as they should follow very closely land settlement policy and the terms on which public domain is ceded, as well as the drafting of laws for implementing colonization projects which frequently place valuable forests in jeopardy and may foredoom land to erosion. The dangers of subsistence farming through shifting cultivation were well revealed during the discussions of the Commission.

Land settlement is generally a slow process but it is going ahead fast in certain countries (Brazil, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Venezuela, etc.). Even so, the proper management of natural forests tends to take second place to the creation of new artificial plantations. The Commission called on governments to rationalize their planting programs, whether to be executed by the State or by private owners with or without state aid. Some delegates vigorously denounced the waste represented by present policies of free, haphazard distribution of planting stock to small landowners.

The work program of the regional research committee was established and action was proposed on the future functioning and financing of the Latin-American Forest Research and Training Institute at Mérida, Venezuela. Seven countries of the region are now contributing financially to this institute whose results during its initial period of establishment were judged very satisfactory.

The Commission asked FAO to organize in 1960 as a regional project a study tour on conifers of Mexico and Central America. Organization of a supply of authentic seed and better knowledge of the ecological habitat of these generally quick-growing conifers was regarded as essential in connection with planting programs now under way in many Latin-American countries.

FAO was also requested to continue the regional pulp and paper advisory group, whose task is to advise governments on the prospects for developing competitive industries in the light of raw material resources and prospective markets. The undertaking jointly by FAO and the Economic Commission for Latin America of a regional "timber trends study" was endorsed. Long-term market possibilities for tropical hardwould be explored through this study. FAO would also arrange for current market developments to be regularly reviewed.

The session closed with a short visit to forest areas around Antigua. Some delegates were able to proceed afterwards to the Fifth FAO Regional Conference for Latin America held at San Jose, Costa Rica. This Conference endorsed at the ministerial level many of the recommendations decided by the regional forestry commission.

Near east forestry commission

The Second Session of the Near East Forestry Commission was held in Cairo from 27 October/1 November 1958. Delegations attended from Iraq, Libya, Sudan, the United Arab Republic (U.A.R.), Ethiopia, France, Italy, and the United Kingdom (Cyprus and Somaliland). Observers were present from Pakistan, Turkey and the United States. The FAO Regional Representative, Dr. A. R. Sidky, represented the Director-General.

Mohammed Kamil Shawki (Sudan) was elected Chairman and Ali M. Alem (Libya) and Ahmed H. Nasharty (U.A.R.) Vice-Chairmen. Donald F. Davidson (Cyprus) was appointed Rapporteur. Karl Oedekoven, the FAO Regional Forestry Officer, served as Secretary assisted by Oscar Fugalli, and the then Director of FAO's Forestry Division, Marcel Leloup, was present throughout the session.

The detailed discussion of progress in forestry development in the several countries of the region was of high interest and is recorded in the final report of the session. Some points made are as follows.

The formulation of balanced land-use policies is coming to the fore in several countries of the region. In Cyprus, a Land-use Co-ordination Committee is in operation and in the Sudan a similar committee has been established on an experimental basis in one of the nine provinces. A central Land-Use and Water Development Board has also been created in the Sudan, and the establishment of shelterbelts is recognized as a cardinal point of forest policy. Attempts are being made to conserve and rehabilitate forest remnants. Efforts are also being concentrated on tree planting, particularly of poplars, in conjunction with large-scale agricultural development projects, as in the case of Afghanistan (Helmand Valley Authority). The agrarian reform now being undertaken in Iraq may have a considerable effect on forestry development in that country.

In Afghanistan, the forest administration still consists of a skeleton staff which is, however, being slowly augmented. Ethiopia has recruited a number of expatriate foresters to set up a forest service. Sudan has created three new posts and employs several expatriates in addition to Sudanese officers. Iran has a central service with 14 divisions plus 11 regional forest departments and 7 smaller forest offices; forest protection has made considerable progress as a result of the creation of a body of armed forest guards. Jordan has a central service and 13 districts under the direction of a senior forestry officer. British Somaliland, whose central forest administration is a division of the Department of Natural Resources, is divided into three districts, each with an assistant conservator of forests and a forester: there is considerable decentralization of authority. Cyprus has had an organized forest service for a long time.

Iraq's forest administration has been remodeled. It will have two directors under the Director-General of Forests, one in charge of forest management and the other for specialized services such as research, planning, surveys, and utilization. The Forest Research Division and the Forest Survey and Management Plans Division are already in operation. In 1957, a new Forest Police Division was established with the responsibility of enforcing the forest law. In Libya, a Department of Forests was established in 1957 under the jurisdiction of the Nazir of Agriculture for Tripolitania, consisting of a director and his assistant, three district forest officers, two agricultural extension officers and a number of forest guards. In the Northern Region of the U.A.R., the forest service is expanding rapidly.

Efforts are being made in many countries either to establish schools for forest guards (Ethiopia, Iran, Iraq, Libya) and for subprofessional personnel (Ethiopia, Cyprus, Iraq, Iran and the Sudan) or to send foresters abroad for training. Jordan now has three students in the United States of America while during the past few years 10 officers have attended courses in Cyprus, the Netherlands and the United States. British Somaliland is sending its rangers to Cyprus, Sudan and Tanganyika, and a Fellowship has enabled a Somali forester to spend four years in the United Kingdom. The Sudan now has 10 students in Scotland (Edinburgh), one in Australia and one in Pakistan. The Northern Region of the U.A.R. has also sent 6 Fellows to Europe and the United States to study forestry. The Near East Forest Rangers' School, which is being established in the latter country, will begin to function in 1959, offering subprofessional training in forestry.

In discussing the whole problem of the incidence of rights of usage on forests in the region, the general view of the Commission was that it was the way these rights of usage are practiced by those who exercise them and not the nature of the various rights themselves which is at fault. Measures for attempting to solve the problems involved were agreed.

Future action was decided in regard to regional FAO projects and guidance was also given on future work programs of the Forestry and Forest Products Division as affecting the region.

Technical meetings

Lack of space has hitherto precluded noticing some recent technical meetings in Unasylva. For instance, the Fourth Session of the Working Party on Torrent Control and Avalanches (European Forestry Commission) took place in Austria, from 9 to 20 September. Business meetings were held in Vienna when a number of analytical reports commissioned by the last session and prepared by consultants, were discussed and agreed; these related to the building and maintenance of torrent control structures, land use in mountain areas, and the silting of reservoirs.

Subjects studied during the subsequent tour in the Austrian alps were the siting of structures for torrent and avalanche control, afforestation of high altitude zones, and the interrelationship of grazing and forestry on mountain lands.

The scope and trend of the future program of the working party was decided: it will be co-ordinated to parallel fields of action of FAO's European Commission on Agriculture.

The International Chestnut Commission also held a Fourth Session in Yugoslavia from 22 to 30 September, with a study tour from Ljubljana to Belgrade and a post-session tour to Salonike, Greece, from 2 to 3 October.

Representatives from Spain, France, Italy, Greece, Portugal, Switzerland and Yugoslavia participated. Twelve other member countries of the Commission provided reports.

Main discussion centered on how to enhance the usefulness of chestnut cultivation, for watershed protection and for timber and fruit, in the betterment of rural economics. Clearly chestnut had still an important role to play, otherwise the species would long since have lost all economic importance in southern Europe.

Timber committee of ECE

Delegations from 24 countries, together with three non-governmental organizations, participated in the 16th Session of the Timber Committee of the Economic Commission for Europe (ECE) at Geneva in October last.

The committee re-elected François M. du Vignaux (France) as Chairman and Johan-Otto Söderhjelm (Finland) and Jerzi Knothe (Poland) as Vice-Chairmen.

The hope, expressed by the committee at its 15th Session, of continued stability in the European sawn softwood market had not been realized for 1958. The declining level of industrial activity in western Europe, and the high level of stocks in importing countries at the end of 1957 induced a cautious approach to purchasing. With ample supplies on offer, important downward adjustments of prices occurred. The 1958 level of imports by European countries was probably slightly less than had earlier been anticipated. The timber available from European exporters proved considerably greater than had been estimated a year previously. This would influence forest output plans for 1959.

The committee thought there would be improved consumption, increased import requirements and a higher level of trade in 1959. Adequate supplies would be available to meet any likely increase in demand.

The committee decided to review the hardwoods market situation regularly, and requested that a consultation of experts from interested governments be convened by FAO and ECE during 1959 to lay down and define the statistical and other information to be assembled for this purpose.

In allocating priorities for the program of work for 1959, the committee took into account the need to streamline the program and achieve concentration. In regard to utilization studies it decided to give priority to the:

1. industrial utilization of small-sized roundwood and fuelwood;
2. utilization of timber industry waste;
3. search for new outlets for certain non coniferous timber species.

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